(I wrote this post yesterday. It was all ready to go; it just needed 2.1 to pose for photos. Simples, yes? But they were too shy, too sleepy, too nervous about the lawnmower…so, I put off publishing to today. They are now under the Brinsea. I give up. Here’s the post, sans pics.)
I don’t mind telling you that I was nervous about 2.1 their first day here. In my very limited experience, I’ve never tended chicks so small and frail. I was genuinely concerned, and unsure what I would find in the partitioned gazebo brooder Saturday morning.
I gave the matter some thought, and came to the following conclusion: these huge hatcheries are fulfilling orders all over the country. They have to provide a specific number of chicks of a specific breed and sex, to a specific store on a specific date. Chicks in the same incubator can stagger hatching by as many as 48-72 hours, so those have to be hard marks to hit.
I concluded that “day olds”, as new babies are called, are more than a day old, having spent time drying out after hatching, before being packed and mailed, which is another day. But they might be quite a bit older, as old as four or five days old, by the time you choose them at the store. They may have been biding their time at the hatchery, waiting for the order to be completely fulfilled before shipping.
I have to assume that 1.0 and 2.0 were a good three to five days old when I got them, with primary wing feathers well under way, and full command of their little downy bodies, eating, drinking, hopping, preening, and, of course, competing.
Now, unless there’s an Easter Egger thing I should know about, some form of breed-specific developmental retardation, 2.1 must have been right out of the egg, or as nearly as is possible. If more experienced Easter Egger chickeneers can clear this up for me, I’d be grateful.
They had no primary wing feathers whatsoever. No butt bumps signaling emerging tail feathers. They didn’t know what do to with water. They were shaky on their tiny, little pins. Very shaky. They huddled helplessly in the tightest corner of their brooder. One rolled over onto her back and couldn’t right herself without assistance; one had horrible green gel pasty bum.
Let’s talk about the green goo for a bit, shall we? I’m told that chicks are routinely packed for mailing with a “bell” of green nutritional gel, in case they should become peckish on the journey. Makes sense. Here’s the thing, though. In my two previous chick purchases, from the same store, from the same hatchery, I’ve never noticed the gel before, at either end of the digestive process. This is the first I’ve experienced it.
Not only were the Easter Eggers all covered in it in the bin at Agway, mine pooped it for 24 hours after arriving home. Passing through the digestive tracts of immaculate, shiny new beings had little effect on the appearance of the gel itself, because it came out looking remarkably as it went in.
2.1 thought so, too. Saturday morning, I caught them eating their green gel poops, rather than their starter crumbles. New blankie under the Brinsea. Problem solved.
I approached the barn first thing Saturday morning with nervousness and my best approximation of stoicism. They were all under the Brinsea (good), but were they all still with us, in spirit, as well as body? They emerged slowly and made their way to the food dish, all three of them (phew). The blankie was absolutely covered in their half-green gel, half chicken poop droppings. Huzzah! Everyone’s pooper was operational. Very important.
After just a few minutes, it was clear that they were much stronger and more compos mentis than they had been the day before. They ate, they drank, they scurried about; I could stand down red alert.
Now, it may be the tininess talking, but I don’t think so. These are the cutest chicks I have ever seen. Don’t tell the other girls, but they were never this cute. Is it the clumsy, tipsy newness of them? Is it the puffy cheeks typical of the breed? Is it the different colours? I don’t know. I don’t care.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, these biddies are adorable. I don’t generally get sucked in by cute like this. With animals, as with humans, I enjoy them much more after they’ve grown up a bit.
Which inspired me to give them a naming theme. These girls are starlets, bombshells, created for the camera. You will be bored of their photos. I shall name them after va-va-voom actresses of mid-twentieth-century film. Real movie stars.
As they are easily distinguishable, matching name to chick is, for a change, a simple matter, one that needn’t wait.
Let’s start with our blond. She’s blond for now, at least; if Chicken Debbie’s source at the hatchery is to be relied upon, she should feather in as a light blue, a lavender. This one is easy for me. Yes, she could be Lana, or Claudette or Veronica. But, there’s really no contest, is there? Can there be any doubt?
She is Marilyn. And, trust me, she knows it.
The girl who is to be a darker blue-grey is our brunette bombshell. This one is less self-evident to me. She could be Ava; she could be Sophia; if I stretch the dates a bit, she could be Raquel. Maybe there’s one I’m not considering?
And then there is our little chipmunk. She’s the smallest, and the perkiest. She knows she’s not a standard, glamourous, hourglass beauty, but she doesn’t care. She knows that men who are only after big boobs are not worth having. She has brains. She has moxie. She is the Kate Jackson of the group (Ooooo, I could totally name them after Charlie’s Angels…)
I have absolutely NO idea what the chipmunk girl will look like in her big-girl feathers. None. This one’s a bit of a crap shoot, and I really need input here. I’m thinking Audrey, but that could be all wrong. If she shows some temperament, I would consider Vivien.
Your thoughts, please!!